Liam in line for first cap
ENGLAND have called up uncapped Lancashire batsman Liam Livingstone and returning paceman Mark Wood for the two-match Test series in New Zealand.
England play two warm-up matches in Hamilton before their gruelling winter schedule finally comes to a close with Tests in Auckland on March 22 and Christchurch on March 30.
Livingstone, 24, is the spare batsman on tour and will likely push harder for a place than Gary Ballance, who resembled little more than a place holder during the Ashes.
The Cumbrian batsman edged out England Lions team-mates Dan Lawrence and Joe Clarke in a selection process delayed for 24 hours by captain Joe Root’s viral illness.
He is an aggressive and innovative presence at the crease and, though he failed to impress when he made his England bow in two Twenty20s against South Africa last summer, Livingstone has plenty of admirers in the national set-up, not least the influential Andy Flower.
Livingstone is understandably ecstatic with his maiden Test call-up and eager to make an impact when he links up with England.
He said on Lancashire’s official website: “It is a huge honour to have been named in the England Test squad for the first time. Test match cricket is the pinnacle and something that every player works towards throughout their career.
“As a kid I always wanted to play Test match cricket for England and I’m determined to take my chance if I get an opportunity in New Zealand.
“I had a taste of what it’s like to play for England in the T20 series against South Africa last summer, but to pull on the Three Lions in a Test shirt would be a dream come true.
“I’m so excited to get out there and show what I can do.”